« My Year in Positive Psychology, Part 2: Notes on Essentialism | Main | A Little Trick For Avoiding Negativity Bias In Performance Reviews »

September 13, 2019


Nathan Frost

Hey Jamie,

Thanks for this; I haven't found a lot of discussion on the utility (or lack thereof) of criticism in creative work.

Only getting criticism that you request is an interesting guideline. It sounds like a good approach -- unless you have a teammate who never asks for criticism. (Or perhaps who asks too late or too infrequently). Maybe you could navigate this with explicit milestones where one is usually expected to request criticism, like in the agile methodology's sprint reviews?

I agree with the literature that traditional performance reviews tend to be counterproductive, and that positive and negative feedback are better dealt with through regular 1-on-1s.

I've also found it helpful to have a team policy defining what sort of criticism is actionable and encouraged -- and that could ultimately affect your job if chronically left unaddressed -- versus complaints that somebody somewhere will inevitably levy on someone else, but that will definitely not impact your job, at least from management's perspective.

My current rubric is that a legitimate criticism:
1) is reasonably objective (not an opinion like "you write confusing code", but comes with concrete examples like "you wrote this specific code on this changelist that caused these problems, which had a substantial impact on the team's ability to progress on the game")
2) is important: there's a reasonably objective argument to be made for why the negative impact of the problem is substantial
3) is delivered along with a concrete solution to rectify the problem

I've found that 3) is often more helpful in encouraging the critic to empathize with the challenges their teammate is dealing with, since they have to themselves think of a solution rather than just tossing off some negativity (and might also realize they don't have the skills themselves to easily solve the problem they're pointing out).

I hereby request criticism on my thoughts about criticism. :P (If and only if you have the time and inclination to comment, of course!)

And congrats on the new gig; it sounds pretty sweet!



The comments to this entry are closed.

Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game